How are IELTS Speaking band scores evaluated?

by Erik


Many of us (aka IELTS candidates) walk into the test room without knowing what the examiner is looking for in the test. We just answer question by question the way we think it is right, ending up not getting the band score we expect. Knowing how the test is graded may not help you to speak better but you could change the way you speak, giving out responses that demonstrate all the requirements of the band score you need.

As per public version IELTS band descriptors, examiners will determine candidates' band score based on 5 aspects, which are grouped in 4 criaterion areas:

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

These 4 criteria are equally weighted and each is awarded a whole-number sub-score of 1 to 9. Candiates' final score will be the average of these 4 scores. This really means that you have to pay your attention to those 4 criateria equally to get a high band score. Lets look further at each of these 4 criteria.

1. Fluency and Coherence

This criterion is judged based on candiate's ability to speak fluently and coherently. The examiner will see how well the candidate can:

  • speak with a right speed
  • speak continuously
  • speak smoothnessly
  • use pauses correctly to make your speech clear
  • expand your answers with extra information
  • answer questions directly
  • add relavant details
  • connect sentences by using connectives

2. Lexical resource

This refers to candidate's ability to:

  • use a wide range of vocabulary
  • use words accurately (words' meaning and pronunciation)
  • paraphrase or explain himself/herself if he/she forgets or does not know right words

3. Grammatical range and accuracy

This refers to how accurate and varied candidate's grammar is. The candidate is judged by his/her ability to:

  • use correct verb tenses
  • use complex sentences with junctions and linking words
  • use complex grammatical structures in your speech

4. Pronunciation

How clear and understandable candidate's pronunciation is.The examiner will pay his attention to:

  • basic word pronuncations
  • linked speech sounds
  • sentence stress
  • intonation
  • rhythm

Now you know what areas you need to pay attention to when you speak. It seems that there are a lot of things you have to care about, but just bear in mind the key idea of all these criteria is being clear and being able to communicate clearly. 
For details of band score descriptors, click here

Related articles:

IELTS Speaking Format

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